Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry to make dance debut for the Nutcracker

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The heart of the Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry, isn’t a two-sport athlete yet, but he will soon be making his professional dance debut.

Is there anything Kyle Lowry can’t do? He can hoop, act (as seen in his many commercials), parent, and now he’ll look to prove that he belongs in the ballet. The Toronto Raptors point guard will participate in the National Ballet of Canada’s production of the Nutcracker.

Lowry will be joining the show for one night only, December 19, at the Four Seasons Centre in downtown Toronto. The performance is sandwiched between games against the Detroit Pistons on the road and Washington Wizards at home, setting up a busy week for the guard.

This will be the first time that Lowry has appeared in the ballet. He will be playing the part of a Cannon Doll, something that many celebrities have done in the past. The National Ballet of Canada describes the role on its website.

"“Celebrity walk-on roles are a long-held tradition with Nutcrackers all over the world. In the National Ballet’s production, the guest roles are Cannon Dolls, colourfully costumed Russian Petrouchka dolls who shoot a cannon into the audience to begin the battle scene in Act I.”"

Lowry’s presence in the show is a first for him, but not for the Toronto sports scene. Last December, two Toronto Maple Leafs stars took part. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner were Cannon Dolls for an evening performance.

If Lowry is given the same directions as the Maple Leafs players, ticket holders for the December 19 performance should expect to see the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy winner on stage for a total of 50 seconds. In that time, he will be allowed to improvise while dressed up in flowing colourful robes complete with a wig and a long floppy hat.

Lowry likely won’t be asked to dance while on stage, although if he were, there is a history of the art playing a role for NBA players.

Famously, Kobe Bryant learned to tap dance to help him with his gameplay. Bryant both hired a private instructor and visited a dance studio to begin tapping along to the music. He did so since the quick movements strengthened his joints and helped him speed up his footwork.

Ballet itself has been a preferred method of training for some professional athletes. In the NFL, York Jets defensive tackle, Steve McLendon, practiced the dance since his time at Troy University. He believes that his ballet experience helped make him a better, more agile football player. The same can be said for Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and Herschel Walker. In 2014, The Dallas Cowboys got innovative and installed ballet bars of varying heights outside their team locker room. The purpose was to use them to help them stretch like a dancer and ideally avoid injuries.

In basketball, ballet was utilized for the same purposes. The North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team coach, Dean Smith, had his players take lessons. There may have been something to the move since Scott Williams, King Rice, J.R. Reid, and Rick Fox all graduated from their ballet classes and UNC and went on to successful professional careers in the NBA.

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There is the possibility that Lowry’s time with the National Ballet might inspire him to get himself a pair of pointe shoes and begin to plie. If he’s interested, there may be no better opportunity to explore the dance form than when he will be surrounded by some of the best performers in Canada later this month. With his All-Star level basketball talent, his athleticism would surely help Lowry pick up the activity quickly.

For those interested in seeing Lowry make his Nutcracker debut, tickets are still available.